How does conservation deal with crime? How can rewilding our gardens help to ‘rewild ourselves’? Can badger vaccination truly help eradicate bovine TB? Discuss these topics and more at the public scientific event series hosted by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

ZSL has announced its scientific events calendar for 2019/2020 with a fascinating series of talks, debates and symposiums from world-leading scientists and conservationists.

ZSL experts will be joined by guest speakers from around the world to debate some of the most topical issues that wildlife and people are facing, as a result of varying environmental and economic dilemmas.

For more information on all ZSL’s scientific events, and to book for ticketed dates, visit www.zsl.org/science/whats-on

Can badger vaccination help eradicate bovine TB? 

8 October 2019, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

For decades, conservationists, vets and farmers have been at loggerheads about the best way to manage bovine tuberculosis (bTB). This cattle disease, which can be a huge burden on farmers and farm businesses, also infects badgers. Badgers can pass the infection back to cattle, making it difficult to eradicate the disease. In England, the government’s bTB policy encourages farmers to kill badgers in a series of coast-to-coast culling operations which already cover over half the land area of the South West Peninsula, with tens of thousands of badgers killed each year. However, a recent independent review advised the UK government to explore badger vaccination as an alternative to culling, and the Irish government is already moving from culling to vaccination. At this event, scientists, farmers and policymakers will review the evidence concerning the effectiveness, practicalities and cost of badger vaccination, to explore what role it might play in eradicating bTB from Great Britain.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/can-badger-vaccination-help-eradicate-bovine-tb

Healthy gardens for people, plants and wildlife

24 October 2019, 9am – 6.30pm
Symposium – online booking required

One of the biggest threats facing wildlife on a global scale is the speed and extent of habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. There is a growing need to recognise domestic gardens as an important but often overlooked natural refuge for many wildlife species. Furthermore, gardens can potentially benefit human health and well-being as they provide an opportunity for people to connect with wildlife. This one-day event will draw upon and disseminate the research of the Garden Wildlife Health Project (a collaborative project between ZSL, the British Trust for Ornithology, Froglife and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and the Wildlife Gardening Forum. Speakers will explore the benefits and potential risks that garden habitats can represent to plant, animal and human health, whilst discussing best practice for wildlife-friendly gardening, and highlighting a One Health approach to maximise the advantages of these important habitats.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/symposium-healthy-gardens-for-people-plants-and-wildlife

Madagascar’s missing megafauna: life after lemurs, hippos and elephant birds 

12 November 2019, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

Famed for its incredible biodiversity and charismatic lemurs, the island of Madagascar is considered by many to be a forest-island paradise. The reality is that the island has had an ecosystem collapse, lost most of its natural forests, wetlands and grasslands, and is in dire need of conservation and regeneration. Large animals, or ‘megafauna’, are key parts of ecosystems around the world, distributing nutrients, engineering landscapes and propagating plants, yet they are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate during the current extinction crisis. Madagascar was host to a diverse array of megafauna, including giant lemurs, hippos and elephant birds, which together tell us a great deal about the landscapes of the island before humans began deforestation and development of agriculture around 1000 years ago. Without these ecosystem engineers, Madagascar has only retained its much smaller animals to perpetuate healthy and productive biomes. What can we learn about Madagascar’s past, present and future by exploring the diversity of these now-extinct giant animals? How does the recent palaeontological record inform conservation? How are conservation organisations fighting back against Madagascar’s extinction crisis?

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/madagascars-missing-megafauna-life-after-lemurs-hippos-and-elephant-birds

Can surveillance technology and social science address rule-breaking and wildlife crime?

10 December 2019, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

How does conservation deal with crime? Law breaking, such as poaching or fishing inside marine reserves, is a great challenge to conservationists because research is often complicated by sensitivities related to ethics and data privacy. However, important technological progress has been made in recent years, particularly in the fields of surveillance and vessel tracking. Machine learning is opening up new ways to tackle rule breaking, using ranger reports, thermal and aerial imagery, and vessel positioning data. Similarly, in the humanities, social scientists are using increasingly sophisticated survey tools and questioning techniques to understand the motivation and circumstances that result in crime. This event will unveil the multidisciplinary field of rule breaking, and the global challenges and opportunities faced by scientists tackling wildlife crime.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/can-surveillance-technology-and-social-science-address-rule-breaking-and-wildlife

Coral reefs: running the gauntlet of climate change 

14 January 2020, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

Coral reefs are the most biodiverse marine ecosystems and more than 500 million people world-wide are estimated to be directly reliant on coral reefs for their livelihoods, food security and coastal protection. However, coral reefs are under severe threat from a range of human stressors, and climate change-induced sea surface-temperature increases are perhaps the most imminent and worrying. There have been three pan-tropical mass-bleaching events recorded in the past three decades, the most recent in 2015–2016, caused by global warming rising close to 1°C above pre-industrial levels. Reducing carbon emissions and increasing reef-protection measures are essential to maintain the functioning of these ecosystems. Alongside this, emergent technologies that assist corals to survive in these inhospitable conditions are providing some optimism for the future. This meeting will investigate the range of technologies being developed to help coral reefs endure unprecedented human impacts as global temperatures increase.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/coral-reefs-running-the-gauntlet-of-climate-change

Holistic approaches to conservation 

11 February 2020, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

As conservationists we aim to create a world where wildlife thrives, but how can we achieve this? Conservation interventions are often necessitated by a growing human population and that population’s impact on its environment. To reduce the threat to wildlife, we need to target the source: humans and the way in which populations interact with wildlife. This includes protecting and restoring physical habitat for wildlife, alongside motivating and equipping people to pursue livelihoods that do not degrade the landscape. To achieve this, a holistic approach is needed, capable of reconciling the diverse interests of local people, government agencies and corporations for the benefit of biodiversity. ZSL runs holistic conservation programmes in 13 countries and is just getting started in many more. Working with people is central to each of these projects, and the involvement of hundreds of thousands of people underpins the conservation successes. This event will explore what has been achieved so far using examples such as ZSL’s KELOLA Sendang Project in Indonesia, which works with local communities, governments, and international palm oil companies to secure sustainable livelihoods for people across the landscape and nurture tiger habitat. ZSL is taking care of people so they can take care of wildlife.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/holistic-approaches-to-conservation

Marine habitat restoration in the UK: how to move forward and stop treading water 

10 March 2020, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

Marine habitats are essential to the health of our marine ecosystem, and hold environmental and social importance, providing valuable ecosystem services. For decades we have been compensating against detrimental human impact on the marine environment. This has led to very limited progress in recovering the extent and condition of important marine habitats. The UK government’s 25 Year Environment Plan commits to ‘securing clean, healthy, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans’. However, in recent assessments it is evident that there are significant challenges to meeting the objectives outlined in the strategy to successfully deliver the Plan. Currently there are two different approaches to achieve marine-habitat restoration; reducing pressure on systems and allowing natural recovery, or taking positive action to restore marine habitats and species. This meeting will highlight the need for active restoration, to ensure that we start moving forward to recover our marine habitats. By using three habitat-focused case studies – native oyster beds, seagrass and saltmarshes – we will present the new conservation science and restoration methods that will underpin this recovery. These will help us to identify best practice, opportunities to act and how to scale up to enable ecosystem-scale recovery

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/marine-habitat-restoration-in-the-uk-how-to-move-forward-and-stop-treading-water

The future of biodiversity conservation: different dimensions of conservation thinking

14 April 2020, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

As global biodiversity loss continues at an alarming rate, the conservation movement has never been so important. Yet it is also diverse, with a variety of ideas shaping its framing, purpose and application. Elements such as protected areas, biodiversity impact bonds, traditional knowledge, scientific evidence and human development, all come together to form modern practice. Thanks to a survey of nearly 10,000 conservationists from around the world, we are beginning to understand the full range of perspectives that are shaping today’s conservation landscape and its future. At this event, we explore some of the different dimensions of conservation: people-centred conservation, science-led ecocentrism and conservation through capitalism. We will hear examples of where these different approaches are being applied, and how they interact. As biodiversity loss continues, working together and learning from different methods and disciplines will be key to successful conservation outcomes. Join us to learn about global perspectives and get inside the minds of some of the top conservationists working from different approaches. This is an opportunity to hear real-life conservation stories and find out where you sit on the conservation spectrum!

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/the-future-of-biodiversity-conservation-different-dimensions-of-conservation

Science communication to boost diversity in STEM

30 April 2020, 9am – 6.30pm
Symposium – online booking required

The benefits of a diverse workforce are numerous and now well documented. Despite this, women, disabled people and those from ethnic minorities or socially disadvantaged groups are still consistently underrepresented, particularly at senior levels in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Science communication and public engagement are often viewed as unnecessary demands on an academic’s precious time, yet these activities have the potential to raise profiles and enable researchers to reach a wider audience. These are ‘impact’ accreditations and can improve job prospects and the grant-winning potential of scientists, alongside providing public-speaking and networking opportunities. Importantly, these activities can help promote the emergence of role models who will inspire the young scientists of the future, while challenging stereotypes on who or what a scientist really is. With this one-day symposium, we will explore how science communication, public engagement and outreach activities can foster curiosity about, appreciation for or understanding of scientific concepts, and ultimately support the emergence of a more diverse STEM community.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/symposium-science-communication-to-boost-diversity-in-stem

Establishing a career in conservation science: a ZSL early career event 

7 May 2020, 9am – 5pm
Workshop – online booking required

This one-day workshop is aimed principally at advanced PhD students and early post-docs. The event will review the key skills and knowledge that can enhance prospects for establishing a career in conservation science. The day will be structured around a series of talks and tasks facilitated by experts in their field, designed to promote active learning experiences and maximise networking opportunities for all. Topics will include: applying for an academic position; understanding funding options; working outside academia; and building an online profile/disseminating research outputs. Delegates will have an opportunity to hear about the career paths of researchers who work both in and outside academia. The day will conclude with a short workshop on scientific writing, providing tips on how to choose among possible journals, and discussing the peer-review and publication process.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/establishing-a-career-in-conservation-science-a-zsl-early-career-event-0

Lynx recovery in Europe: lessons for the UK? 

12 May 2020, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

Once widespread across Europe, by the middle of the last century Eurasian lynx were on the brink of extinction. This collapse in population was driven by persecution, deforestation, loss of wild prey and, in some cases, government-led eradication. However, the species managed to cling on in four small isolated populations towards the northern and eastern edges of Europe. The survival and resurgence of Eurasian lynx, to a current population of approximately 8000 individuals across 25 countries in continental Europe, is one of conservation’s success stories. But this recovery did not happen accidentally – it came as a result of dramatic changes in wildlife policy and public attitudes that led to natural expansions in the lynx range, and the implementation of ambitious reintroduction programmes that have restored lynx to previously inhabited areas. This event provides an opportunity to hear from experts and practitioners about Eurasian lynx recovery programmes in Europe and to learn about opportunities for, and barriers against, the reintroduction of lynx in Britain, more than 500 years after the species went extinct.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/lynx-recovery-in-europe-lessons-for-the-uk

ZSL Stamford Raffles Lecture 2020 

9 June 2020, 6.30pm – 9.30pm
Online booking required

ZSL Frink Award winner Professor Sarah Cleaveland OBE FRS FRSE, University of Glasgow, will deliver the 2020 Stamford Raffles Lecture on:

‘Pathogens, people and parks: interactions and interventions in complex ecosystems’.

The evening begins with the ZSL Awards Ceremony, followed by the Stamford Raffles Lecture and finishes with a drinks reception. This event is ZSL’s premier scientific event of the year and is given by eminent speakers on a wide range of zoological topics.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/stamford-raffles-lecture-2020 

Why do eggs fail? 

14 July 2020, 6pm – 7.45pm
Free to attend, booking not required

Hatching failure occurs in all birds, but its incidence varies across species, populations and individuals. Small, threatened populations are particularly vulnerable, with rates of hatching failure sometimes exceeding 70%. Even large populations of common species experience an average failure rate of 10%, and this problem persists in domestic poultry despite optimised conditions and strong selection for hatching success. Egg hatchability can therefore be considered a weak link in the chain of events that determines avian reproductive success. Eggs fail for a number of reasons, in this event we will explore the different aspects that lead to female reproductive failure from gamete malfunction to developmental environment and ask why female fertility is so poorly understood not only in birds, but across most species.

For more information, visit: www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/why-do-eggs-fail